Life has accelerated very quickly for me since turning 26. For one, I’ve learned the value of boundaries and the importance of enforcing those boundaries. Then, as time went on, I found it more and more obvious to me that I care less and less what others think. This has been increasing at alarming rates for myself. I’m not a shrinking violet anymore. At least not nearly as much of a shrinking violet as I use to be.
Today, while on a mini vacation, I decided to call a small deli and bakery to order some food for myself. I looked at the menu online, dialed the number, and when someone on the other end answered, I proceeded to place my order. Now on the website, the menu clearly stated that they had a Blacked Salmon available for order as an Entree. But when I proceeded to order the person on the other end became very upset and stated that they don’t do Entrees and that I was probably looking at the wrong thing because she did not know where I was getting my order selection from (it was from their website). She later said that maybe I was looking at their dinner menu (their website does not have a lunch or dinner menu option available for selection). I asked her to hold on while I went to check on the website and confirm what I saw as I was taken aback by her obvious annoyance at my asking about the Entree options. She then asked me to call back. I said okay and she hung up. I was angry. I was very angry. And uncomfortable. But I didn’t show it. I proceeded to ask myself why is it that I’m not okay with expressing my anger. I had one thought come to mind: that maybe after years of being shown and having it be implied through other’s behaviors and lack of supportiveness that as a Black woman I was not allowed to be angry, I learned to suppress my anger.
And this is true. For years, I noticed how others often reacted fearfully to my anger or came to other’s aid when I was angry. I noticed how I was always the “bad” one for feeling anything other than happy and pleased and grateful or, if offended, silent and forgiving, for the stupid shit that other people did or said to me. I watched how people came to other’s aid when they were hurt, wounded or offended or how supportive other people were when the one who was offended stood up for themselves. The message from childhood was clear: I was not allowed to show offense or take offense.
But at some point I decided to say Fuck ’em. Yep. Fuck them, okay? Because I’m entitled to my feelings as much as anyone else.
Here’s what I realized is going on: I get taken aback when others express anger towards me or in my direction. I get overwhelmed by it and it makes me uncomfortable. I never learned how to deal with angry people except to avoid them. But I can’t always avoid them. People always try to offer tools when other people are angry on how to deal with them. Stay calm, stay safe, stay out of the way, listen, know when to disengage. But sometimes their anger makes me angry too! Sometimes I think people get angry because they know that others have been taught not to engage angry people and they want others to submit to their will. Some people think that by speaking louder or yelling then they will be heard or it will force others to agree or…I don’t know. I’m not looking to empathize with the feeling of anger. I’m looking for how to deal with it.
I’m going to use trial and error. I’m just not comfortable having people talk to me in a disrespectful manner.